Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

ENDA: See You Next Year!

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | December 07, 2009 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: employment discrimination, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA

HRC announced on its Backstory blog late Friday afternoon that it had been officially informed by the House Committee on Labor and Education that ENDA will not be considered by the House this year.

I have been privileged to write about ENDA daily since its introduction in June. Thank you to all of those who have followed my posts and made those calls. We moved ENDA far up the field before the time out, with well over the votes needed in the House and missing only a few votes in the Senate.

I will now take a hiatus from my daily postings to address the personal and professional issues that have received short shrift during the past six months. I will continue to post occasionally about this and other issues, and I note that we need to continue our efforts to ensure that this bill isn't parked again.

The good news is that Gay Inc. awoke from its long sleep Friday morning and issued a strong statement urging swift passage of ENDA, along with the ACLU. There's also increased interest from bloggers and on LGBT news websites. My Google Alerts are humming.

I hear that our LGBT politicians are promising a quick markup and House vote next year. I pray that my concerns about Senate midterm elections and legislative logjams and lost momentum are misplaced. What should our strategy be to move forward to victory in 2010?

The first thing is to ensure that the House moves this forward as quickly as possible. Every day closer to those midterm elections is deadly for the Senate, where the real fight is, as some of the 9 potential yes votes are up for re-election.

The second item is putting high-level pressure on those 9 potential yes votes. Harry Reid and President Obama are going to need to do some serious horse trading. The 4 missing votes are not going to be without cost to the Democrats.

The third factor is going to be constituent support in those states with wavering Senators. It's not going to happen on its own. Many of the state organizations in those areas don't have sufficient resources to do it on their own. Some of the national organizations have resources like nifty phonebanking software that would allow people from other states to call Dems in the 9 states to ask them to call their Senator. But there are serious rifts between the national organizations and the state organizations, a lot of which comes down to money, and if those aren't repaired, then the effort to show constituent support is going to be minimal. Crowing about ten people getting together to phonebank one night, or sending some guy to Indiana to shake hands with local yokels is not going to cut it. Our advocacy organizations are going to have to stop doing the amateur hour thing, and start singing like opera stars.

The last important item is support from progressive allies. They've been sitting on the sidelines far too long, wringing their hands about healthcare and Afghanistan and jobs. Yes, those are important, and LGBT people, like everyone else, deserve good healthcare and jobs, and I oppose the war as well. I and many others in the LGBT community have been doing our part on those issues. But the idea that we can only do one thing at a time is ludicrous. This is a civil rights issue. It's not like we're asking for free ice cream for teh gays. I don't see it covered anywhere in the mainstream media. It's not been in the New York Times or Washington Post at all. Daily Kos, with the exception of a few diarists, hasn't mentioned the issue. I don't see it on Rachel Maddow or other political shows. That's going to have to start happening in 2010, though I don't know how to make that happen. But we do have big media types in our crowd - someone's got to start tapping them on the shoulder.

In the meantime, thank you again for listening to my long harangues. I hope that the holidays will provide a well-needed rest and opportunity for reflection on how to come together as a community of allies to get that touchdown.

I wish you all happy holidays.

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Thank you so much for your tireless efforts in this cause!

Thanks, Veronique. I thank you and everyone for your tireless efforts as well. And more tireless efforts to come!

Angela Brightfeather | December 7, 2009 11:56 AM

Well, this is really bad news and I'm not one to gloss over things like this. It's very disappointing.

The reason I say this is that I have a pretty good idea what is going on here and I think that it really is a lot of trouble for the Transgender Community.

It is apparent that ENDA needs to be a crisis in order for someone (does anyone remember who refused to sign onto United ENDA) to justify dropping the T again. No wonder some people have been laying low and haven't had anything to say about ENDA. Of course they never knes this was coming did they? They have no excuse for not passing it inclusively if there is a lot of time to pass it and it can be done normally, so they have had to make a crisis out of it so they can justify and resurrect the old dead issue of "it can pass now as an exclusive bill, or it can pass much later as an inclusive bill, but we have to do something before the mid-term elections."

That folks, is the writing on the wall and no amount of our (Trans people) calling or lobbying is going to change it. They will do whatever they can to put ENDA between the rock and the hard place in order to push the agenda of exclusion, taking small steps and the lament of "we will come back and get you later" rings in my ears as though it is 1998 all over again.

The only thing left for the Transgender Community and our allies in this thing, is outright rebellion and strong political action, coupled with a media blitz somehow that will work.

I suggest that we start doing some infomercials of our own about people who are fired from their jobs, homeless and STRAIGHT. It's not like it doesn't happen, it's just that no one ever knows about it and many people still think "of course they can't get fired for being Transgender, and if your straight it's out of the question", after all we are all protected under some kind of law, aren't we? We should spend our time telling the American public that they are laboring under false notions and we are not laboring at all because we have three times the number of Trans people out of work than the national average. So multiply all those concerns about the jobless they feel, by three. Our job is to let people know about this, and to stop pandering to the idea that Congressional people are ignorant of our plight and need to be educated. Has anyone ever asked how many people in Congress do not have a 4 year degree from a major university? They aren't ignorant, but the general population is. And we have to start framing the argument in such a way that the average straight father who dotes over his children, stay at home dads and ciswomen in the workplace who don't conform to standard sex roles in society can also lose their jobs unless they show a little leg at work. It's time that we start throwing a few scare tactics out there. God knows that we have been victimized by them enough up to this point. It's time the general public is made aware of the fact that they may be OK and secure with the gender they live in, but if they don't follow certain prescribed guidelines or their children don't, they may be fired at the will of a bigoted boss or company as has already happened on a number of documented occassions, labeled, and branded as acting "gender different".

It's time to use this time, to turn the tables and put them in our shoes, so they start to call their Congress person also. That might wake a few of them up.

I'm also concerned about ENDA and what they're planning, Angela, as it's pretty obvious they're not delaying the bill because of the three minor tweaks. I don't think they're going to go so far as to drop gender identity altogether, as that is now too politically problematic and even they are not so ham-fisted. But they might be thinking of imposing other ham-fisted restrictions to satisfy the Blue Dogs. We have seen time and again how little savvy straight politicians have about the LGBT community. I hope they know what they are messing with.

Thank you for the inspiration.

Thank you, Tif, for all of your hard work on the march and Act on Principles and that amazing conference call and your musical inspiration and all around warm fuzzies.

Thank-you Jillian for all your hard work and tenacity. I am glad we engaged in useful conversation about ideas and strategies - it is something to ponder over the Holidays. 2010 must become a big year for ALL LGBT persons. In order for that to happen we must challenge and discuss everything we are doing.

This will be my first Christmas that I can take Transgender Activist off my wish-list - I now have one of the best.

Looking forward,


I think HRC knows exactly what is happening with ENDA. We need some answers.

Yes, I think HRC does know what is going on, T2. I think the reason they and many others in the know are not saying is that the truth is divisive at a time when we need unity. The truth would allow ordinary people to get involved in the process, and that would mean a loss of control for the powers-that-be. But unity cannot be achieved without communication, and keeping people out here in the dark is going to cause the opposite of what they seek. I am definitely concerned.

Thanks for your kind words, Andrew. Your ideas are interesting, though not always comfortable.

Indeed, Jillian!! You are an inspiration. It is extremely disappointing that ENDA is being delayed, but I can't believe your work will be in vain. For one thing, it's been a real education to watch you in action - your research, your preparedness, and best of all - putting the tools the hands of the community. I hope you enjoy a much deserved holiday over the next few weeks, and can come back recharged and ready, with all guns blazing. Once again, big thanks!!!

Thanks, Hugo. I hope and pray that all will be ready to move ENDA smoothly in the New Year, and that there are no undue distractions.

Thanks for all of your hard work, Jillian! I keep track of this on your Facebook ENDA group and participate and share as much as I can.

Thanks for your work in supporting ENDA, Dana

Sarah Vestal | December 8, 2009 9:27 AM

Your perserverance on this issue is a model for all of us. See you next year and let's do it again.

Thanks so much for all of your hard work and inspired writing. You've been *the* news source on ENDA for so many people these last few months; I know you've motivated and informed me.

I completely agree with everyone. Jillian, you frakkin' rock. You've done so much for this effort, and you richly deserve a break. Go take one, preferably in the most relaxing and comfortable place you can find. February's not all that far away, after all, and we'll need you.

This effort is still growing, in large part because of your efforts, and we will be ready next year. In the meantime, relax, enjoy the holidays, and we'll come back in the new year ready to jump back in the trenches.

And most of all, Jillian, thanks for setting a great example. Setbacks and slowdowns we may have, but this is how equality will be won, by hardworking activists getting the word out there and gathering support, day after day, week after week, not by polite begging behind closed doors by the martini drinkers.

I just wonder how long it will be before those folks finally realize they've been being played for fools by the Democratic Party on ENDA for years now and finally join the rest of the community in truly effective and public grassroots action against those in the Party who suddenly misplace their spines when our basic civil rights as Americans are on the table.

Angela Brightfeather | December 8, 2009 5:07 PM

In my previous post I forgot to mention how well you have handled this whole ENDA go-around this time by increasing the awareness of everyone, keeping track of the numbers and pushing for all the right things. In the many years I have been involved, I have not ever seen such a well orchestrated effort at organizing our community.

After reading a few more things today, I feel a little less depressed about the outcome of ENDA. But when this all starts up again after the holidays, I think we need to keep in mind my previous post about being caught between the rock and hard place. I truly feel that this may be a manipulation to the process of the bills passage, to get the gender out of ENDA again.

I mentioned a while ago about the silence from HRC and Frank's offices being almost deafening this time around. I don't think that after the last go around and the results that came down all around them, they don't want to be anywhere near the idea that they had anything to do this time with removing gender in the bill. The best way for them to do this is to say and do nothing and watch the situation get drawn out until the only option is to pass ENDA without gender or see it go down the tubes with it. Of course no one will be able to point any fingers at them this time, because time will be the culprit, not their agenda to get GLB legislation passed at any price.

If I was a politician and in their shoes, that is exactly how I would play the game. I think we have to at least try to be ready for this plan by continually pressing them for a legitimate plan that will happen after this holiday break and expose exactly what role they plan to play in it as the largest GLBT lobbying group and the most respected Gay voice in the Congress. If we don't begin to smoke them out now, they will end up claiming to be bigger victims than the Trans people that are left at the roadside when the smoke clears and ENDA passes without us after a little committee "tweaking" of the language.

Please excuse my being negative about all this. But I've seen this type of plan work on other legislation. This is all deja-vu to some of us who have had some experience getting our dream slapped up against the wall in the past 20 years.

A freind related to me that Rep Kathy Dahlkemper will vote in favour of ENDA but will not co-sponsor it.

That's great news! How firm is the info - and is this a likely yes or a confirmed yes?

My Dear Jillian

I'd like to extend my sincere heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to you. Your tireless work, and tenacity, served to not only educate us about the importance of ENDA's passage, you kept us in the loop on the bills progress. You succeeded in motivating a huge number of the GLBT community and our allies to get personally involved, in working together to advance a common goal. This itself was a great accomplishment, which few have been able achieve on a grassroots level. I know I speak on behalf of many when I say thank you Jillian, you are a true hero to our community.

I'm so very disappointed with the news that the House Education and Labor Committee will not be considering ENDA this year. I to believe there is more information being held back from us about this decision. With respect to HRC and the work they do, nothing succeeds more than when people are fully informed, feel they have a say in our future and work together from the heart.

It seems to me the major heavily funded local and national GLBT organizations, are more interested in the political aspects of getting legislation passed, than what best for our community as a "whole". Sadly, to many times our "T" brothers and sisters are pawns in this process. They are thrown under the bus, to get a bills passed and it's considered a win. If it doesn't include all members of the GLBT community, it's not a win, it's a concession and this is not acceptable to me. I think we have all seen this happen in our home towns with our Human Rights Ordinances, (HRO). It happened in my home town of Tampa. But, fortunately, our community didn't give up, we worked behind the scenes and kept up the pressure on a grassroots level. It took a several years, but, we finally succeeded in getting gender identity and expression included in our city HRO.

I pray I'm wrong that this is the reason for the delay in passage of EDNA this year. Time will tell, should this be the case, then it's up to us to stand strong and tell our legislators, it all or none.

Thanks again Jillian, it was an honor and privilege to work with you. Please enjoy your hiatus, take good care, if anyone deserves a break, it's you. I hope you have time to charge your batteries and we will work together when round two of ENDA arrives.

In Peace, Pride & Full Equality
R. Zeke Fread

Thank You Jillian. I hope we do see this move forward as some promise quickly next year. I wish you a happy and safe holiday season.